Businesses find a few rays of hope


The massive power outage was apparently good for slots, but not so good for tacos.

In the small town of Alpine, just east of San Diego, residents converged like moths on the neon lights of Viejas Casino, one of the only businesses not rendered pitch black by Thursday’s power outage. Rowina Johnson, a cashier working the graveyard shift, said that as long as darkness reigned elsewhere, the casino was hopping.

“While the power was out, they were pretty busy,” she said of the casino’s workers. When the lights went back on, the casino just off Interstate 8 became “pretty dead.”


At the Alpine Taco Shop, owner Julia Juarez said the power outage added to problems caused by road construction. On Friday morning, she threw away food that had spoiled because of the blackout, including expensive cuts of meat.

“You can’t do anything without electricity,” Juarez said.

But those weren’t the only businesses experiencing a power outage hangover Friday.

Sergio A. Cueva, manager of the Harbor House Cafe in Dana Point, said the 24-hour business was just getting back to normal. “It is not quite as busy as usual,” Cueva said. “People are only now realizing the power is back.”

In Pacific Beach, customers lining up at Better Buzz Coffee thought there would be a sequel to the blackout after power cut out for about five minutes. It was only a false alarm, however.

“It’s just the timer. It’s OK,” a barista told customers.

With kindergarten and preschool canceled the night before because of the uncertainty over how long the outage would last, Dianna Barton, 30, of San Marcos decided to take her 2- and 5-year-old sons to Legoland.

Barton said she didn’t realize the power had gone out Thursday until the air conditioner stopped and her house got “super hot.”

When night fell, leaving the house in darkness, her family got out flashlights, cooked foil dinners in the backyard barbecue and roasted marshmallows in the fire pit.

Meanwhile, dozens of people had to be rescued from amusement park rides that suddenly stopped when the power went out. Nineteen people had to be evacuated from Legoland’s Dragon Coaster.

By Friday morning, however, the Carlsbad theme park expected a surge of visitors from San Diego-area families, like the Bartons, who had an unexpected three-day weekend because of the school closures.

At sunup, gas stations throughout downtown San Diego looked like used car lots, with hundreds of cars abandoned at the sites , presumably because the cars were low on fuel and drivers didn’t want to be stranded in traffic.

The Shell station near the 10th Avenue exit of Interstate 5 had more than a dozen cars parked between gas pumps. To the chagrin of station owner Bob Stivers, the pumps were “”not communicating this morning.” As technicians worked to repair the station’s computer system, Stivers waved off prospective customers.

“We have one-half of one pump out of a total of six pumps working this morning,” Stiver said. “Don’t ask me why.”

Los Angeles Times staff writers Hector Becerra and Richard Winton contributed to this report.